In my last post, I wrote about my journey to the Dominican Republic with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) to learn about the social justice issues affecting the country. (See my previous post here). I also posted a link to petition that you can sign encouraging the United States government to pressure the DR to change its laws and stop violating the human rights of its citizens.
I now have the following request: please copy the following letter (verbatim – just add the name of your place of residence) and send it to your senators and representatives. These letters make a tremendous difference.
I have put the links for finding your senators’ and representatives’ names/snail-mail addresses and email addresses below. It makes no difference if you send it via email or snail-mail. (For email, just cut and paste the letter below, using your own name/city & state, into the email form found on your senators’/representative’s pages. For snail mail, cut and paste the letter below onto a letter, using your own name/city & state, and mail to the mailing address found on your senators’/representatives’ page.)
And one final request (from AJWS): After you’ve submitted your email or snail-mail letters to your senators and representatives, spend one last minute at the link below to let AJWS know you’ve submitted — very important for their follow-up efforts as we conduct our advocacy together with our partners in the Dominican Republic.
To find the name and mailing/email address of your representative or senator, click on these links:
Dear Representative/Senator [insert the name of your elected official here],
As a concerned citizen from [insert name of your town here] I am deeply troubled by the plight of Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.
In 2010, the Dominican Republic changed its constitution and stipulated that children born to “irregular migrants” after 2010 would not be able to obtain citizenship by birth in the country. A subsequent court ruling in 2013 retroactively applied this constitutional change, saying that children born to “irregular migrants” since 1929 were not citizens and thereby denied citizenship to hundreds of thousands of people born in that country, creating the largest stateless population in the Western Hemisphere. To dampen the international outcry at this travesty, the Dominican government proposed Law 169-14 as a solution. However, because of fundamental flaws in the law, it has now become a trap for Dominicans of Haitian descent. As a result, tens of thousands of people, including many who were born in the Dominican Republic, have been thrown into the shadows of society. Every facet of daily life in the country depends on having documents to prove legal status. Without documentation, this group of people is unable to go to school or work in the formal sector. They cannot access health care services, get married or register the birth of their children.
We urge you to use all means available to hold the government of the Dominican Republic accountable for ending the crisis in the Dominican Republic, where hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent are being denied their fundamental right to nationality because of their heritage. Tragically, many of the same Dominicans of Haitian descent are fearful for their lives because the process to nationality is not transparent. It is all too easy for this population to be exploited and persecuted. As they are systematically denied their citizenship, they are subsequently disenfranchised and are being barred from voting in the upcoming national elections in May, 2016.
The international community cannot stand idly by while state-sanctioned discrimination strips away the dignity and fundamental human rights of innocent people.
We ask that you take immediate action to urge the U.S. Department of State to demand that the Dominican government:
- Does not disenfranchise Dominicans of Haitian descent;
- Immediately restores legal status of those who have been denied their nationality;
- Has transparent and accessible processes to restore nationality.
As Jews, we are all too familiar with this kind of persecution, which our ancestors endured at the hands of oppressive governments. Such oppressions included expulsions of Jews from European countries during the Middle Ages, and Jews having their citizenship and rights stripped away in Nazi Germany, Vichy France and other countries. We stand in solidarity with Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian migrants at this crucial time.
[your city, your state]